You could call this an uneventful game if you just looked at the score. In actuality, the game was rough, chippy, and the Thrashers came out on top in a battle of wills. Andrej Mezaros and Evander Kane went back and forth all night in hits, Scott Hartnell tried to take out Tobias Enstrom, and the Flyers swarmed Chris Mason in the crease every single chance that they could – but never got a goal through.
Both teams were unsuccessful on the penalty kill, with the Flyers getting six chances and the Thrashers seven – the number of powerplays alone should tell you that this game was more than a snoozefest. Most notable, though, was the tenacity of the Thrashers. They refused to back down from the challenging Flyers, with Ron Hainsey leading the way in clearing the crease a couple times, especially in going after Hartnell who was almost constantly in Mason’s paint. Hainsey’s play as the season has progressed has gotten increasingly excellent, and his determination in having the Thrashers finish out with some dignity is telling. If these last games are really a test for Craig Ramsay’s guys – a chance to impress the coach – Hainsey gets an A+.
The last time the Thrashers managed a 1-0 shutout it was against the Washington Capitals on January 26th, with Nik Antropov getting the only goal. That’s what happened again tonight. Antropov was trying to control a pass from Evander Kane, stopping to get control in front of Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. The puck went in off of Antropov’s skate, but it was not ruled a distinct kicking motion, so the goal stood. It was a bit of an anti-climatic way for the Thrashers to get the win, considering all of the shoving that took place this game, but I’m sure that they’ll take it.
Chris Mason was absolutely solid, obviously benefiting from his team’s decision to play solid defensive hockey in front of him. He stopped every shot thrown at him – all 43 of them – in the victory. Many of them were from tight situations, or with enormous traffic in front, but the Thrashers limited the Flyers legit scoring chances, and Mason benefited from that greatly. It’s good to see him get a shutout to help his stats out this season.
The Thrashers are back in action again on Saturday at 1:00 in Boston, where they’ll square off against Rich Peverley. It’s the first game between the two teams since the trade that sent Peverley to Boston for Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart. Wheeler and Stuart have been having better fortunes in Boston than Peverley has in Boston by far.